Elissa Slotkin fought for Michigan workers in Congress. Now they have her back in Senate run

Elissa Slotkin fought for Michigan workers in Congress. Now they have her back in Senate run

Photo Illustration/Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

By Kyle Kaminski

July 11, 2024

Dozens of labor unions that represent thousands of Michigan workers are throwing their support behind Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s campaign for US Senate. 

MICHIGAN—Bob Thompson backs political candidates who stand up for working families.

As the president of the Michigan Farmers Union, Thompson focuses much of his time on uplifting policies that help family-owned farms rather than big corporate conglomerates, as well as those designed to make it easier for Michigan farmers to earn a living doing what they love.

So, when it came to deciding which candidate would be the best choice to replace retiring US Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Congress next year, Thompson said the choice was a simple one.

He’s standing behind US Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

“We’ve been following [US] Rep. Slotkin’s career closely and we’re encouraged by her steadfast support for family farms,” Thompson told The ‘Gander. “She has stood with us on a number of important pieces of legislation, and has really been a champion for agriculture and families.”

This week, the Michigan Farmers Union became at least the 23rd labor union in Michigan to endorse Slotkin’s campaign for US Senate. Now in her third term in the US House, Slotkin is viewed as the frontrunner in this year’s Democratic primary election—and is widely expected to face off against former Republican US Rep. Mike Rogers for the US Senate seat in November.

In an interview with The ‘Gander, Thompson said Slotkin’s record of supporting legislation to help working families—including a bill to ensure farmers and ranchers have the freedom to fix their own broken equipment—ultimately secured the Michigan Farmers Union’s endorsement.

“Our philosophy at the Michigan Farmers Union is all about supporting the smaller, family operations at the local level,” Thompson said. “Rep. Slotkin has proven herself to be a true leader in that regard, and I think we need to elect more people who share those values.”

‘A Champion on Their Side’

Thompson credits Slotkin for fighting back against corporate monopolies in the agricultural sector—specifically within the meatpacking industry, where only a handful of companies have controlled the vast majority of the market in Michigan, often at the expense of smaller brands.

But Slotkin’s support from Michigan workers extends well beyond farming communities.

At least 24 other labor unions who represent more than 600,000 Michigan workers have endorsed Slotkin’s campaign—including the Michigan Education Association (MEA), Building Trades Council, State Conference of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Pipe Trades Association, Professional Fire Fighters Union, and the Utility Workers Union of America.

The recent endorsement from the MEA also came along with the national backing of the larger National Education Association—as well as all 3 million of its members across the country. 

“Throughout her time in Congress, Elissa Slotkin has been an amazing advocate for everyday teachers, school support staff and higher education employees across Michigan,” MEA President Chandra Madafferi said in a statement.

In announcing the endorsement, the MEA also cited Slotkin’s “consistent” support in Congress for increasing federal special education funding, as well as her efforts to raise the minimum wage and “ensure that all retired teachers receive their hard-earned Social Security benefits.”

During her time in Congress, Slotkin also worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to craft the initial framework for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—which included prevailing wage provisions for workers and has already directly led to the creation of thousands of union jobs.

In announcing the Michigan Pipes Trades Association recent endorsement, union President Price Dobernick reportedly labeled Slotkin as “one of our most dedicated allies in Congress,” noting that her record of fighting and delivering for Michigan workers is “unquestionable.”

“Thanks to leaders like her, for years to come, Michigan workers—including thousands of our members—are going to be rebuilding our infrastructure with American-made supplies while earning a real living wage,” Dobernick said in a statement announcing the endorsement.

‘Protecting the Rights of Workers’

Slotkin’s top priority in Congress is centered on boosting Michigan manufacturing, strengthening the supply chain, and creating more jobs. It’s literally the first item on her legislative agenda.

“Michigan was the birthplace of the middle class, and we must work to make sure that Michigan’s middle class families succeed,” Slotkin writes. “That means creating jobs with dignity, bringing our supply chains back to America, and protecting the rights of workers.”

On her website, Slotkin also takes credit for pushing leaders in both parties to pass the CHIPS and Science Act to manufacture microchips in the US and “protect” Michigan’s auto industry.

The law—which was passed by Congress in 2022—included $280 billion in funding, specifically to ramp up domestic semiconductor production and research. That funding has since been used to entice a number of big-name manufacturers to set up shop (and create jobs) in Michigan.

Slotkin also supported the United Auto Workers union during its strike against the Detroit Three automakers last fall—even joining workers for at least one visit to the picket line in Michigan.

Another one of Slotkin’s recent labor union endorsements reportedly came from Operation Engineers Local 324, which also billed Slotkin as one of its “greatest allies” in Congress, especially when it comes to supporting policies that support union workers in Michigan. 

“She listens, leads by example, and works tirelessly to get the job done. That’s why we support Elissa for the US Senate,” said Local 324 Business Manager Douglas Stockwell. “Michigan’s workers will continue to have a champion in D.C. with Elissa Slotkin as our Senator.”

Slotkin’s Record

Union leaders have also credited Slotkin for voting to protect union pensions and raise the minimum wage, as well as ensuring prevailing wage provisions were included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Last year, Slotkin also brought a United Auto Workers union leader as her guest to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Slotkin has also signed onto the Raise the Wage Act to boost the federal minimum wage and has co-sponsored the PRO Act in each session of Congress. That legislation would protect collective bargaining rights and give the National Labor Relations Board more power.

During her time in Congress, Slotkin has also opposed a number of Republican-led bills that would’ve harmed working families, according to a legislative scorecard from the AFL-CIO.

That includes Slotkin’s opposition to legislation designed to curtail worker protections in the wake of the pandemic, as well as efforts to reduce funding for clean energy projects through the so-called “Limit, Save, Grow Act” that was introduced last year by House Republicans.

That plan, had it been passed and signed into law, would’ve reportedly jeopardized Medicaid coverage for 10 million low-income Americans, eliminated food assistance for millions of families, and canceled student loan debt relief, according to an AFL-CIO analysis.

Slotkin has also received perfect legislative scores from Communication Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the American Federation of Government Employees; and the Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

“She works across the aisle to get things done, and that’s what we need in Congress right now,” Kevin Moore, president of Teamsters Joint Council 43 told The ‘Gander. “Democracy is on the table. Men and womens’ rights are on the table. We need a check and balance in Congress in case [Donald Trump] gets back into the White House, so we’ll fight like hell for Elissa Slotkin.”

READ MORE: Slotkin pitches bill to help Michiganders fix up homes and cut energy costs

For the latest Michigan news, follow The ‘Gander on Twitter.

Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.


  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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